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Goodnight Moon and Gertrude Stein

In the Great Green Room: This dovetailed with another observation: my students are not as puzzled by Stein as I expect them to be. Stein writes: “Glazed Glitter. Nickel, what is nickel” and my students recognize the moment of wondering. This habit of wonder is familiar in part because we have been raised on the lists of Goodnight Moon. [more inside]
posted by frumiousb on Nov 24, 2015 - 5 comments


November 29th marks the 25th anniversary of the US H1-B visa, a highly-coveted three-year employer-sponsored visa for skilled workers that can eventually lead to a Green Card - eventually. SmithsonianAPA presents a collection of art about the H1-B experience, primarily from people that have held or are holding H1-B visas (mostly South Asians, since Indians make up the majority of H1B applications), as well as some H-4 dependent spouses. H1-B visa holders are also sharing their experiences on Twitter. (previously)
posted by divabat on Nov 23, 2015 - 20 comments

The Perfect Republican Stump Speech (sl538)

We asked former Republican speechwriter [for Mark Sanford, an experience he describes in The Speechwriter] Barton Swaim to write a ​totally pandering stump speech for an imaginary GOP presidential candidate — one who ​espouses only positions that a majority of Republicans agree with. ​Here’s the speech he wrote, including notes to explain his phrasing, behind-the-scenes pro tips on appealing to Republican voters and the data he used to decide which positions to take.
posted by Going To Maine on Nov 23, 2015 - 72 comments

So what’s your solution?

Professor of Mathematics Izabella Laba's "A Response to … " Scott Aaronson's "Words Will Do". An exchange between a mathematician and a computer scientist, on the use of terms including: privilege, hegemony, false consciousness, mansplaining, etc., and the general problem of clear communication, when the social sciences are applied towards political causes. [more inside]
posted by polymodus on Nov 21, 2015 - 111 comments

“how does one reconcile writing “the end” when life is still unfolding?”

Begin Again: On Endings in Nonfiction by E. V. De Cleyre [Ploughshares.org]
Talking, or writing, about endings is hard—whether it’s the end of a marriage, the end of a life, or the end of a book (lest one spoil the conclusion). Life rarely offers sudden and definitive endings or epiphanic conclusions. Rather, events leading up to the end seem to be a slow unfolding, occasionally bleeding into a new beginning. For writers of nonfiction, dealing with actual occurrences often means there is no definitive end, and even if there were (such as a death), there comes the aftermath—the grief, the coping, the rebuilding.
posted by Fizz on Nov 20, 2015 - 2 comments

Nebula Awards Suggested Reading List 2015

The 2015 The Nebula Awards Suggested Reading List, selected collaboratively by the members of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America in the run up to the Nebula Award. Categories include novella, novellete and short story, within which most entries have links full stories.
posted by Artw on Nov 17, 2015 - 32 comments

Old habits ...die hard.

Somebody took out a full page ad in The Hollywood Reporter to pitch a Die Hard sequel
posted by The Whelk on Nov 12, 2015 - 66 comments

Getting Away from Legalese

Despite its reputation for being dense, awkward, and repetitive, legal writing can be simple, readable, and concise when done well. Legal writing blogs, such as Bryan A. Garner's Law Prose, are here to help. Non-lawyers may also find these useful when reviewing a lawyer's work, reading legal documents, or in their own formal writing. [more inside]
posted by jedicus on Nov 12, 2015 - 33 comments

an azure & emerald tome describing a world made only of plates of beans

If you, too, tend to forget to visit MeFi Projects, possibly due to everything existing everywhere, simultaneously, then you ought to check out MagicRealismBot on Twitter. [more inside]
posted by wintersweet on Nov 11, 2015 - 20 comments

“...the novella is not an immature or effeminate novel.”

The Novella Is Not The Novel’s Daughter: An Argument in Notes by Lindsey Drager [Michigan Quarterly Review] [more inside]
posted by Fizz on Nov 10, 2015 - 37 comments

a mail-order house in Schenectady

In an essay originally published back in 2000, Ursula K. LeGuin takes a punt at the question any writer dreads to get asked: "so, where do you get your ideas from" and uses it as a springboard to examine the art of reading and writing and why Americans are afraid of dragons.
posted by MartinWisse on Nov 4, 2015 - 15 comments

"Will you walk a little faster?" said a whiting to a snail.

"Do you know the young lady?" I asked.
"My Mary? Impossible!"
"Witness: I should prefer not to answer.
"Let us
"I have heard of you, Mr. Holmes."
"I trust that I am not intruding." I am well acquainted with the accused.
Well, she was just a-biling.
"Was you in my Room?"
"I always give too much to ladies." I am!
'Hold your tongue!' said the Queen, turning purple.

--I asked a computer to write a novel that it thought was similar to Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice. [more inside]
posted by Potomac Avenue on Nov 4, 2015 - 25 comments

Junot Díaz Just Lost an Award for Speaking Out.

New York’s Dominican Consul General revoked Díaz’s Order of Merit last week, calling him “anti-Dominican.” Díaz was accused Thursday of being "antidominicano" by the Dominican Republic's consul in New York, Eduardo Selman. Díaz has also been stripped of the Order of Merit awarded to him by the Dominican Republic in 2009. Diaz lost the award after he and Edwidge Danticat were in Washington, speaking to congress about the anti-Haitian initiatives in the Dominican Republic. (These were discussed previously on MetaFilter.) [more inside]
posted by frumiousb on Oct 28, 2015 - 9 comments

"The unique platform and reach our site provide"

We’d like to publish a story you wrote! - Cool! What do you pay? Oh, we can’t afford to pay, but EXPOSURE! - How about no. Wil Wheaton being propositioned by big media.
posted by klausman on Oct 28, 2015 - 72 comments

The Zack Parsons Project

Zack Parsons, Something Awful's resident writer of much weirdness (oldest articles in that listing may be misattributed) has resumed his beloved series with Steve Sumner (the Max to his Sam), WTF D&D. While Zack still writes for Something Awful, he and Steve's reviews of weird pen-and-paper RPG sourcebooks and art, and their rollicking RPG campaigns, have resumed on Zack's new site, The Bad Guys Win, which also features other new articles from Zack (all of the new WTF D&D, currently a two-part adventure in the Ravenloft setting starring Steve as an idiot monk, is collected under Games). [more inside]
posted by BiggerJ on Oct 23, 2015 - 16 comments

He likes big butts and he cannot lie

Robert Crumb talks to The Observer about misogyny, sex, fame, cartooning and getting older in a sprawling interview.
posted by Artw on Oct 19, 2015 - 70 comments

“I do not consider literary forms to exist in a hierarchy,”

History v Historical Fiction by Jane Smiley [The Guardian] Historical fiction is not a secondary form – I was condescended to by a conservative historian who cannot see that he too constructs stories.
“The condescender was Niall Ferguson, a conservative historian about 15 years younger than me, who wanted to be sure that I understood that the historical novel is all made up, but that historical non-fiction, written by historians is truth. He referred to his research. I referred to my research. He wasn’t convinced. I suggested that the demands of history and fiction are slightly different – that since a novel is a story, it must be complete, and since a history must be accepted by the reader as accurate, it must be incomplete.”
posted by Fizz on Oct 15, 2015 - 43 comments

In Search of 'Desiderata'

"Desiderata" is a 1927 poem by Max Ehrmann. It's been subjected to misattribution and mutation (the second Google result is a typo-ridden version that's lurked on a .edu site since 1996 and substitutes "Neither be critical about love" for "Neither be cynical about love" and "Be careful" for "Be cheerful". Even Snopes prints a version with "careful" rather than "cheerful.) Daniel Nester digs into the history of the poem in a piece published on the website of the Poetry Foundation.
posted by larrybob on Oct 15, 2015 - 64 comments

“Poetry makes life what lights and music do the stage.”

A serial novel written in real time by Joshua Cohen, with illustrations by Leon Chang.
PCKWCK is a reinterpretation of Charles Dickens' first serial novel, The Pickwick Papers. That's about all we know so far, because it hasn't been written yet. Beginning Monday, October 12th at 1pm EST, Joshua Cohen will write PCKWCK over five days in front of the entire internet. Every day from 1pm-6pm EST visitors to www.PCKWCK.com will be able to watch Cohen write in real time, offer feedback that may affect the outcome of the novel, and talk with Cohen and other readers in a chat room.
[more inside] posted by Fizz on Oct 12, 2015 - 15 comments

Dear Friends

A contemporary fictional account of promoting contemporary fiction.
posted by DarlingBri on Oct 8, 2015 - 4 comments

"Women like me are very lucky and exceedingly rare."

"I've collected the suffering that men so recklessly visited on myself and other women and fashioned it into a livelihood. It is not a fortune but it is a tasteful empire of pain. I might be unlovable but I am not unsellable. I know some women who drink from mugs labeled 'Male Tears.' That's what I've labeled my checking account." Alana Massey for Medium: The Monetized Man.
posted by divined by radio on Sep 30, 2015 - 59 comments

Solidarity in Space

Really, though, shouldn’t authors be more likely to write about unions now that labor is so gravely imperiled? Don’t we need more novels about what unions are capable of, now that pencil-necked geeks like Scott Walker are eviscerating them in public? - The Seattle Review of Books reviews Windswept, a new science fiction book by MeFi's own Adam Rakunas. Interview. He also posts fiction on Twitter at Adam's Bedtime Story.
posted by Artw on Sep 25, 2015 - 16 comments

Take *that*, assholes

A Modest Proposal - David Sedaris talks about the pros and cons of getting hitched
posted by a lungful of dragon on Sep 21, 2015 - 30 comments

Wait, wait, have you written this down? Aren't you a writer?

SOUNDS LIKE YOUR NEXT STORY!: a short play with infinite scenes by Rebecca Makkai.
posted by divined by radio on Sep 21, 2015 - 5 comments

“We are thrilled when fragments of reality become utterable.”

The Mysterious, Anonymous Author Elena Ferrante on the Conclusion of Her Neapolitan Novels [Vanity Fair]
Passions run high when you’re talking about Elena Ferrante and her work, particularly her sensational, highly addictive Neapolitan novels, which paint a portrait of a consuming female friendship against the backdrop of social and political upheaval in Italy from the 1950s to the present day. My Brilliant Friend,The Story of a New Name, and Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay have made Ferrante, an enigmatic figure who writes under a pseudonym, and is widely regarded as the best contemporary novelist you’ve never heard of, a worldwide sensation.
[more inside] posted by Fizz on Sep 3, 2015 - 17 comments

A Critical Library

What books should a critic own? "Each week, the National Book Critics Circle will post a list of five books a critic believes reviewers should have in their libraries." Here are all the lists, from 2007-2011. [more inside]
posted by thetortoise on Aug 29, 2015 - 14 comments

#9 Inadvertent, Manitoba. #33 Wintergreen Slap. #39 Don Henley Tirade.

Superego's Mark McConville (previously: 1, 2, 3, 4) is making some very specific Top 50 lists:
    Top 50 Nastiest Black Diamond Ski Runs in the World
    Top 50 Retired Price Is Right Games
    Top 50 Canadian Ghost Towns
    Top 50 Vape Flavors in America for 2015

posted by Room 641-A on Aug 28, 2015 - 26 comments

“producing much fruit, or foliage, or many offspring”

Can a Novelist Be Too Productive? by Stephen King [New York Times] [Op-Ed]
“No one in his or her right mind would argue that quantity guarantees quality, but to suggest that quantity never produces quality strikes me as snobbish, inane and demonstrably untrue.”
posted by Fizz on Aug 28, 2015 - 112 comments

correctness rests upon usage; all usage is relative

"What of those grammar rules that were entirely dreamt up in an age of moral prescriptivism, reflecting nothing of historical or literary usage, to encourage the poor English language to be more like an entirely different (and entirely dead) language, namely Latin? Wait, which rules are those? It seems pretty crazy but the popular grammar rules familiar to most of us may in fact be completely fake and have no basis in linguistic reality. The English language didn't change to make those rules obsolete, they were simply fictional from the start." || Dear Pedants: Your Fave Grammar Rule is Probably Fake, by Chi Luu.
posted by divined by radio on Aug 25, 2015 - 170 comments

Frankenstein’s Mother

"Since I was a little girl I’ve been afraid of monsters. I’d put garlic on my window ledge to ward off vampires and sage in the corners to protect me from zombies. Even as a young adult I lay on my ratty futon surrounded by library books terrified someone or something would break into my apartment. After my daughter was born, my fear escalated. I’d check the front door several times a day to make sure the deadbolt was secure and the chain latched. At night I lay in the dark, my mind sending out waves of panic."
posted by ellieBOA on Aug 24, 2015 - 7 comments

A different breakfast every day

Breakfast -- Eating the World Every Morning is a series of dispatches about breakfast around the world. [more inside]
posted by Room 641-A on Aug 18, 2015 - 35 comments

July in Osaka

You’ve decided on a life of letters. You’ve got that manuscript you workshopped getting your MFA, an agent, and a publisher. Congratulations! You’re well on your way to being a critical darling. Now all you need is a catchy title. Lucky for you, this handy guide will help you title your book, and every book you write in your illustrious career. Janet Potter (previously) at The Millions (previously)
posted by davidjmcgee on Aug 17, 2015 - 85 comments

Honest tales from the trenches of AAA game writing

“Even that didn't work," she said. "One of the directors on God of War 3 said, 'I need your input on this, this is what design's doing. And I said ‘this is bullet proof, there is no way you can ruin my narrative moment.’ -- "I come back the next week and they ruined my narrative moment."
Gamasutra talks about writing for AAA games
posted by MartinWisse on Aug 14, 2015 - 36 comments

Gatsby to The Shining

William S. Burroughs Teaches a Free Course on Creative Reading and Writing
posted by fearfulsymmetry on Aug 13, 2015 - 10 comments

you write because no one is coming

An essay somewhat in the spirit of Montaigne that discusses reading and writing, Nigeria and Biafra, bystander reactions to tragedy, an novel I've never read named Half of a Yellow Sun, early Christianity, and more. As is often the case on Crooked Timber, many of the comments are worth reading too.
posted by kingless on Aug 12, 2015 - 2 comments

“Late” according to whom?

Welcome to Bloom — a literary site devoted to highlighting, profiling, reviewing, and interviewing authors whose first major work was published when they were age 40 or older. Bloom is also a community of artists and readers who believe that “late” is a relative term, not an absolute one, and who are interested in bringing to attention a wide variety of artistic paths — challenging any narrow, prevailing ideas about the pacing and timing of creative fruition. (via Ask)
posted by You Should See the Other Guy on Aug 10, 2015 - 10 comments

“He’s got a dragon in his book,” she said. “A very limp one."

Portlander Ursula K. Le Guin is Breathing Fire to Save American Literature - Portland Monthly, Taylor Clark. “I just played with words all my life,” she told me. “I kind of went to my room and found out what was going to happen that day.” [Previously: "How are things in the Land of Youth?" Ursula Le Guin blogs from 85 | Ursula K. Le Guin on writing and freedom at the National Book Awards]
posted by joseph conrad is fully awesome on Aug 5, 2015 - 31 comments

Homme de Plume

What I Learned Sending My Novel Out Under a Male Name: I sent the six queries I had planned to send that day. Within 24 hours George had five responses—three manuscript requests and two warm rejections praising his exciting project. For contrast, under my own name, the same letter and pages sent 50 times had netted me a total of two manuscript requests. The responses gave me a little frisson of delight at being called “Mr.” and then I got mad. Three manuscript requests on a Saturday, not even during business hours! The judgments about my work that had seemed as solid as the walls of my house had turned out to be meaningless. My novel wasn’t the problem, it was me—Catherine.
posted by frumiousb on Aug 4, 2015 - 64 comments

Shirley Jackson on writing

The New Yorker has recently put online three short essays on writing by novelist and short story writer Shirley Jackson, author of The Lottery and The Haunting of Hill House. They are Memory and Delusion, On Fans and Fan Mail and Garlic in Fiction, where she sets out her methodology of writing fiction. You can read one of Jackson's short stories on The New Yorker's website, Paranoia, and an interview she did with her son.
posted by Kattullus on Aug 4, 2015 - 12 comments

"working with words is a kind of love, it's like being in love"

Words (part 2) is a performance by Scottish novelist and stand-up comic A. L. Kennedy about working with words. Kennedy has reflected quite a bit about the craft and practice of writing, including a blog called On Writing that ran in The Guardian from 2009-2013, and was collected into a book of the same name.
posted by Kattullus on Aug 3, 2015 - 2 comments

Beyond fantasy monoculture

“As a black woman,” Jemisin tells me, “I have no particular interest in maintaining the status quo. Why would I? The status quo is harmful, the status quo is significantly racist and sexist and a whole bunch of other things that I think need to change. With epic fantasy there is a tendency for it to be quintessentially conservative, in that its job is to restore what is perceived to be out of whack.”

NK Jemisin on upending the fantasy literature status quo and getting beyond medieval fantasy Europe.
posted by Artw on Aug 2, 2015 - 51 comments

The Eviction Series

Paul Madonna (previously on MeFi) and his wife have been evicted from the home and workspace in which they've lived for ten years. In response, Paul is drawing and writing All Over Coffee: The Eviction Series about his life in San Francisco right now.
posted by mattdidthat on Aug 2, 2015 - 21 comments

Stars in His Pocket Like Grains of Sand

Science Fiction grandmaster Samuel R. Delaney interviewed by SF Signal, with a very long answer in part 2, and by The New Yorker where he talks about race, recent Hugo controversies being nothing new, and the past and future of science fiction.
posted by Artw on Jul 30, 2015 - 26 comments

“Writing is healing. Writing is art. Writing is learning.”

The Role of Writers in a STEM Obsessed Society
“As writers, it’s easy to think of how we matter to literature classrooms, but what the appointment of writers-in-residence in hospitals, history classrooms, foreign language learning spaces, and cooking schools reminds us is that we are relevant wherever there is humanity—which is to say, wherever humans are with their stories. Writing is healing. Writing is art. Writing is learning. As such, writing across the disciplines matters. Many models of artist residencies depend upon the retreat model, wherein the artist sequesters herself away with a small community of other artists. While these models have value, especially when considering how solitude relates to the creative process, it’s heartening to me to see more models catch on that value the place of the writer in society, rather than hidden away from it.”
posted by Fizz on Jul 30, 2015 - 44 comments

Books about women don't win big awards: some data

"When women win literary awards for fiction it’s usually for writing from a male perspective and/or about men. The more prestigious the award, the more likely the subject of the narrative will be male. I analysed the last 15 years’ results for half a dozen book-length fiction awards: Pulitzer Prize, Man Booker Prize, National Book Award, National Book Critics’ Circle Award, Hugo Award, and Newbery Medal." Nicola Griffith notes the absence of stories about women from prize-winning novels--even when those novels are written by women. The Seattle Review of Books adds an interview with Griffith on the writing and aftermath of her original blog post.
posted by sciatrix on Jul 29, 2015 - 92 comments

Cargo cult of personality

The IBM Watson Personality Insights service uses linguistic analytics to extract a spectrum of cognitive and social characteristics from the text data that a person generates through blogs, tweets, forum posts, and more. Just enter a chunk of text with at least 100 recognized words and Watson will break down your (or Hitler's or Donald Trump's) personality compared to other participants. [more inside]
posted by Room 641-A on Jul 27, 2015 - 80 comments

The Eternal Champion

“I was very much into Freud and Jung when I was writing those books,” he says. “The whole point of Elric’s soul-eating sword, Stormbringer, was addiction: to sex, to violence, to big, black, phallic swords, to drugs, to escape. That’s why it went down so well in the rock’n’roll world.” - Michael Moorcock at 75 on his work, autobiographical fantasy, and why he thinks Tolkien was a crypto-fascist.
posted by Artw on Jul 26, 2015 - 69 comments

“always surprised people are surprised that people haven’t read things.”

From Steinbeck to Cervantes: Confessing Our Literary Gaps by Sarah Galo, Elon Green [Hazlitt] Authors, journalists, and assorted literary stalwarts tell us why they’ve missed the famous books they’ve missed. [more inside]
posted by Fizz on Jul 22, 2015 - 78 comments

Scribe By Night

Scribe By Night is a calligraphy Tumblr which seeks out calligraphy to reblog, from people just starting out to people who are very skilled. [more inside]
posted by Elementary Penguin on Jul 20, 2015 - 8 comments

"You can go wild on the wall, everything that comes to your imagination"

"The thing I find very exciting is waiting for the subway train and sometimes you'll get a glorious one that arrives decorated like a birthday cake!" Watching My Name Go By is a short 1976 BBC documentary about graffiti, artists, and graffiti artists in New York City. The film is based on Norman Mailer's 1974 essay for Esquire magazine, "The Faith of Grafitti." [via]
posted by Room 641-A on Jul 16, 2015 - 5 comments

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